Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Form structure

From: Web Form Design Best Practices

Video: Form structure

As we have seen, form length is an important part of how we organize our web forms, but form structure also plays a role, particularly on mobile devices. So let's look at a couple of examples of form structure and some of the considerations we think about when designing. First is sequential. I recognize this example from the Boingo Get Online form I talked about earlier. A sequential form is a series of questions that have to be answered together in order to complete a task. You want to buy something, we need to collect information. You want to register we need to collect some information.

Form structure

As we have seen, form length is an important part of how we organize our web forms, but form structure also plays a role, particularly on mobile devices. So let's look at a couple of examples of form structure and some of the considerations we think about when designing. First is sequential. I recognize this example from the Boingo Get Online form I talked about earlier. A sequential form is a series of questions that have to be answered together in order to complete a task. You want to buy something, we need to collect information. You want to register we need to collect some information.

Basically anything that requires answers before getting to what someone's goal is. We think about designing sequential interactions, the idea is to guide people from start to finish as painlessly as possible. The other type of form that we might think about though is a non-linear form. A non-linear form is a form where there is series of questions, but not all have to be filled out at the same time. Think about editing a set of existing information, or adjusting some settings. Here the goal is more to pick out one or two things that you want to change rather than go through every single question one by one in order to get to a goal.

And when we design these, exposing every single question in a non-linear form especially on a smaller screen can be problematic, instead we want to do our best to conserve screen real estate and actually show the output of these forms, so that people can decide really quickly where they need to engage. Looking at the Edit Profile form on the right here you can see that I'm looking at the name, title, and web site of my profile. If I want to edit any one of these items we simply need to tap on it and I enter a small interactive form right then and there that allows me to make changes and save them.

Once I've save those changes, I can be done or I can move onto another piece of the form such as my title, and go through the same non-linear sequence within the form. Each input can be selected and modified without going through everything at once. So when we design non-linear forms especially on smaller screens, the idea is to get people to the information they want to modify, change, or remove quickly, and easily which means making things more scannable. We'll talk a bit more about this in the section on input labels, but for now just be aware that one of the possible form structures we may consider is non-linear.

Another form structure that comes in this play is the idea of an in-context form. So an in-context form is a way for people to really quickly contribute information, without jumping into a full form. In-context generally means where the activity or information is more relevant. So let's say you're looking at a thread of comments on Q&A site like Carrier here on the right and you want to chime in yourself, contribute a bit of information, leave a comment.

Sending this person off to a full page web form probably is a bit of overkill, instead they can simply tap the comment button and right there a little inline form pops up. Now personally, I prefer a way to get out of this form in case someone taps it by accident such as with the cancel or a little close action off-focus, but the idea of giving you that input right then in there drives immediacy and allows people to contribute in the small quick bursty ways that they tend to use their mobile devices.

Again in-context form applies to anywhere we're doing web form design, but in particular where somebody is looking at a device really quickly just wants to chime in real fast, this keeps him in the action rather than taking all off to a separate form. So looking at form structures in general there is a couple structures that we want to think about. What's right for a sequential form which is displaying all the labels and input fields in a row so someone can go through that as quickly as possible, is different than what we might want to do with the non-linear form where we actually want to show the input and allow people to really quickly find what they're looking for.

Which also differs from an in-context form where the primary goal is direct inline editing, in and out as fast as possible. When thinking about the types of forms you're putting on your pages, it's good to keep in the back of your mind what structure is right for the type of interaction I'm enabling.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Web Form Design Best Practices
Web Form Design Best Practices

30 video lessons · 12619 viewers

Luke Wroblewski
Author

 

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed Web Form Design Best Practices.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferences from the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your lynda.com subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.